Licensing

JDW wins late night levy appeal

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Late night levy, License, Nottingham, Newcastle city council

JDW wins late night levy appeal
JD Wetherspoon has won an appeal against Newcastle City Council’s refusal to allow the company to vary three of its pubs’ hours to avoid paying a late-night levy.

The authority rejected Wetherspoon’s attempt to dodge the city’s levy last year, but the c950-strong pub operator has now been given permission to change the licences of High Main, Five Swans and Union Rooms following an appeal at Newcastle Magistrates Court.

The change will remove authorisation for the pubs to sell alcohol after midnight for as long as a late-night levy is enforced.

The variation was granted on the condition that if a levy is withdrawn in the city, JDW would have to give 56 days’ notice to police before its original 2am licence can be restored.

There is also a condition of a 30-minute ‘drinking up time’ after the last drink is served.

In July, JDW pledged to vary the licence of its pubs hit by a levy in this way as part of a company policy in protest against the legislation.

A spokesman from Newcastle City Council said: “In this appeal hearing we note the judge’s decision to allow a condition on Wetherspoon’s licences prohibiting the sale of alcohol from midnight during the period of operation of the late night levy in Newcastle – the time at which they become liable to pay the late night levy - and enabling Wetherspoon’s to revert back to selling alcohol after midnight should the levy be scrapped.

“We welcome his imposition of a 30-minute drinking up time after the last drink is served and the 56-day period of notice the licensees would have to give the authority if they intended to resume selling alcohol after midnight should the levy be scrapped.

“These measures will prevent the stacking up of alcohol before midnight followed by prolonged consumption after it, and also give the authorities more time prepare for any consequences of Wetherspoon’s reverting to selling alcohol after midnight.”

A JDW spokesman said: "Wetherspoon's are pleased that our appeal was upheld by the court. The condition we sought to apply allowing automatic resumption of later hours at the three premises should the late night levy ever fall way in the city was one agreed to in other areas and we were always satisfied that it would not undermine the licensing objectives as feared by the Licensing Authority.

"The additional safeguards applied by the court were similar to ones we had proposed at the initial hearing last year and do not cause us any difficulties. We have had a constructive relationship with both the Police and Council in Newcastle for many years and that will be maintained going forward."

Last year, Nottingham City Council’s licensing committee agreed to vary the licence of Wetherspoon’s pub the Company Inn in Castle Wharf so the pubco could avoid paying the levy.

Related topics: Licensing law, JD Wetherspoon

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